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Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect two corrections. A previous version incorrectly stated that according to Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, 10% of the country’s population is homeless, but California contains 25% of the nation’s homeless population. Bartlett had stated that California represents 10% of the nation’s population but California has 25% of the nation’s homeless population. A previous version stated that San Clemente, Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano, Irvine and Aliso Viejo are being sued by Orange County Catholic Worker, Emergency Shelter Coalition and Housing is a Human Right Orange County. The cities have been named in the suit and not yet formally served.

By Lillian Boyd

Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett presented a series of updates on issues pertaining to the 5th District in the State of South County Address & Dinner on Thursday, April 11 at the Laguna Hills Community Center.

Bartlett highlighted homelessness, public safety, housing, infrastructure, transportation and health and human services, in addition to summarizing updates on South County cities specifically.

“Let me start off by saying Orange County is an amazing county,” Bartlett said. “We are committed to working with our cities to address ongoing issues such as homelessness.”

Looking back on the past year, Bartlett commended county’s ability to forge public-private partnerships, such as the Dana Point Harbor lease agreement. Community meetings planned around a harbor revitalization plan first began about 21 years ago. In 2016, Bartlett and other county leaders proposed a plan to partner with private developers to oversee a new and improved harbor. On July 17, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a recommended action to name the Dana Point Harbor Partners LLC (DPHP) as the 66-year master leaseholder and operator of the Dana Point Harbor. The lease was formally signed at a ceremony and press conference in the harbor on Nov. 2.

“I believe partnerships are effective for getting things done. Public-private partnerships are one of the greatest tools,” Bartlett said. “There are certain things that the private sector (is) much better at.”

Bartlett addressed how county leaders are addressing homelessness in Orange County.

“We have 38 million people in the state, we represent about 10% of the nation’s population but in California we have 25% of the nation’s homeless population so 1 out of 4 people who are homeless are living right here in California, so it’s something we’ve got to address head on,” Bartlett said. “We’re looking at temporary shelter locations, we’re looking at affordable housing. We’re doing quite a bit.”

She commended the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and South County leaders for being proactive, remaining engaged and connecting homeless people with services.

Orange County Catholic Worker, along with the Emergency Shelter Coalition and Housing is a Human Right Orange County, filed a suit on Feb. 27 naming the cities of San Clemente, Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano, Irvine and Aliso Viejo, because they said the cities have not done enough to provide for a shelter. The cities have yet to be formally served.

According to Bartlett, the county will have its homeless numbers from this year’s Point-in-Time Count by April 30. The annual survey conducted by City Net and with the help of local volunteers this past January, provides the county with data on the homeless population.

Bartlett said when they have the numbers, she’ll meet with elected officials and city managers in South County “to truly focus on what we are going to do moving forward.

“‘Here’s your actual numbers for your city and let’s get the plan together,’” Bartlett said of what will be discussed in the meeting. “But South County cities are very engaged, and they are working and contacting individuals who are homeless in the communities and helping them, connecting them to services. And that’s quite a good thing, so we’re being very proactive here in South County.”

Bartlett also provided updates on the decommissioning of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).

“Decommissioning is important. Legislation will hopefully be moving forward, and I know that this is one of Congressman (Mike) Levin’s top priorities,” Bartlett said.

Shawn Raymundo contributed to this report.

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comments (1)

  • April 22, 2019
    A suggestion to think about regarding homeless in San Clemenete:
    1. We have homeless who have invaded San Clemente like they have not done in recent history.
    2. San Clemente has a problem or two:
    1). Courts are breathing down our proverbial necks to provide for these homeless.
    2). Many of the homeless are homeless and are not from San Clemente but from who know elsewhere, but this is our problem since we have mild weather, concerned citizens who side with the homeless and want to help them, and some want to welcome them to our city (but presumably not to their own homes?).
    3). This is intractable!
    4). Homeless now reside on any land, preferably public land so they cannot be removed unless the city provides alternatives, and they have tents, other temporary shelters, and some just sleeping bags or blankets with no protection from rain. The homeless apparently are quite well acclimated to living outside as any homeless building.
    My suggestion that will cost less than opening a shelter with all its various problems of beds, toilets, heat and air conditioning and food….
    1. The City should designate a definitive plot of land, maybe half an acre or more(?) for homeless.
    2. Require all homeless to go to that plot of land and call that “home.”
    3. The city provides the following:
    a. port a potties sufficient for the population. How to figure this out? Go to the airlines: coach sections in large airplanes (e.g., 777) have up to 6 lavatories (that’s airline speak for toilets!) for 200 or so passengers. Seems if SC provided 6 or even 8 port a potties for up to 100 people the city would far exceed what airlines offer paying passengers.
    b. some sort of overhead shelter from the rain but no permanent shelter for those without tents.
    c. provide a free bus (the shuttle would do) from the encampment to the Discount Mall twice a day at 8 a.m with return at noon and another pick up at the encampment at 12:30 p.m. with return by 5 p.m. The homeless would have greater access to services that the mall would provide and would support the mall’s businesses. Obviously, the homeless now have to eat so how do they get their food? Seems they go to either the free food which is not available every day nor all day long, or they go to some low cost eatery. Regardless, the homeless would have access to food and shelter all day long at the Mall. If well intentioned citizens of the city want to give free food, they could do so at the encampment.

    What would all this cost? Less, I suspect, than opening a building with its attendant rules, regulations and supervision.
    Of course, this is not the perfect solution, but it seems to me to be better than trying to find a building for the homeless. Modification of this idea is always an option – modification that makes it better.

    John M. Dettoni, Ph.D.

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